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  • Helen McIlveen

#WeddingInspo... alternative readings

Updated: Jul 3

A collection of wedding readings for your ceremony


Scaffolding by Seamus Heaney

Masons, when they start upon a building,

Are careful to test out the scaffolding;


Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,

Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.


And yet all this comes down when the job’s done

Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.


So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be

Old bridges breaking between you and me


Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall

Confident that we have built our wall.


‘I’ll Be There’ by Louise Cuddon

ll be there, my darling, through thick and through thin

When your mind’s in a mess and your head’s in a spin

When your plane’s been delayed, and you’ve missed the last train.

When life is just threatening to drive you insane

When your thrilling whodunit has lost its last page

When somebody tells you, you’re looking your age

When your coffee’s too cool, and your wine is too warm

When the forecast said, “Fine,” but you’re out in a storm

When your quick break hotel, turns into a slum

And your holiday photos show only your thumb

When you park for five minutes in a resident’s bay

And return to discover you’ve been towed away

When the jeans that you bought in hope or in haste

Just stick on your hips and don’t reach round your waist

When the food you most like brings you out in red rashes

When as soon as you boot up the bloody thing crashes

So my darling, my sweetheart, my dear…

When you break a rule, when you act the fool

When you’ve got the flu, when you’re in a stew

When you’re last in the queue, don’t feel blue

’cause I’m telling you, I’ll be there.


‘The Amber Spyglass’ by Phillip Pullman

“I will love you forever; whatever happens. Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I’ll drift about forever, all my atoms, till I find you again… I’ll be looking for you, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you… We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams… And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me.”


'Wild Awake' by Hilary T. Smith

People are like cities: we all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square. Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn’t know were there, even the ones they wouldn’t have thought to call beautiful themselves.


'Marry your Best Friend' by Anonymous

Marry your best friend.

I do not say that lightly.

Really, truly find the strongest,

Happiest friendship

In the person you fall in love with.

Someone who speaks highly of you.

Someone you can laugh with.

The kind of laughs that make

Your belly ache, and your nose snort.

The embarrassing, earnest, healing kind of laughs.

Wit is important.

Life is too short not to love someone

Who lets you be a fool with them.

Make sure they are somebody

Who lets you cry, too.

Despair will come.

Find someone that you want

To be there with you

Through those times.

Most importantly,

Marry the one that makes passion,

Love, and madness combine

And course through you.


A love that will never dilute -

Even when the waters get deep, and dark.



‘Yes, I’ll Marry You My Dear’ by Pam Ayres

Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear.

And here’s the reason why.

So I can push you out of bed

When the baby starts to cry.

And if we hear a knocking

And it’s creepy and it’s late,

I hand you the torch you see,

And you investigate.

Yes I’ll marry you, my dear,

You may not apprehend it,

But when the tumble-drier goes

It’s you that has to mend it.

You have to face the neighbour

Should our labrador attack him,

And if a drunkard fondles me

It’s you that has to whack him.

Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear,

You’re virile and you’re lean,

My house is like a pigsty

You can help to keep it clean.

That sexy little dinner

Which you served by candlelight,

As I do chipolatas,

You can cook it every night!!!

It’s you who has to work the drill

And put up curtain track,

And when I’ve got PMT it’s you who gets the flak,

I do see great advantages,

But none of them for you,

And so before you see the light,

I DO, I DO, I DO!!


Rainbow Connections’ by Garfunkel & Oates

Just after the storm breaks,

With the perfect amount of light,

You can catch a glimpse of magic

If the timing is right.

Rainbows are improbable, beautiful, and rare,

But so are you, and so is this, the love that we share.

Too vast to hold, and too small to name

It's no wonder why

You have to stand between the rain and the sun

To see a rainbow in the sky.

All the things that had to go right,

All the things that had to go wrong

That lead us to the place where we were going all along.

Right now they fall away,

Right now it's just us two,

Right now we make a promise:

If you do, then I do too.

Don't know how we found it,

But we did somehow.

All the moments of our lives,

Were leading up to now.

I used to feel uncertain,

But now I realize

When I want to see my future,

I just look into your eyes.

Too vast to hold, and too small to name

It's no wonder why

You have to stand between the rain and the sun

To see a rainbow in the sky.

All the things that make you - you,

All the things that make me - me,

That lead us to the place where we were always meant to be.

Right now they fall away

Right now it's just us two,

Right now we make a promise.

If you do, then I do too.

A rainbow doesn't choose to be a rainbow,

It just shines in the sky,

And there's nothing to debate

And there's nothing to deny.

Love might be a privilege,

But marriage is right,

So to all of you detractors

Who don't know you've lost the fight,

To all of you in the darkness

We're here turning on the lights.

Now I stand with you,

For the world to see,

My love, my dreams, and me

My love, my dreams, and me.

Right now they fall away,

Right now it's just us two,

Right now we make a promise:

If you do, then I do too.


‘Doctor Zhivago’ by Boris Pasternak

Oh, what a love it was, utterly free, unique, like nothing else on earth! their thoughts were like other people’s songs.

They loved each other, not driven by necessity, by the ‘blaze of passion’ often falsely ascribed to love. They loved each other because everything around them willed it, the trees and the clouds and the sky over their heads and the earth under their feet. Perhaps their surrounding world, the strangers they met in the street, the wide expanses they saw on their walks, the rooms in which they lived or met, took more delight in their love than they themselves did.


'Chapter One of One Thousand' by O.J. Preston

For two people this dawn brought on a magical day

Now husband and wife they head on their way

As a boat setting sail may their journey begin

With calmest of waters, most helpful of wind

And if they should stumble upon turbulent sea

May it pass them unharming - leave them be.


For here are two people whom love has well bitten

Here opens their book which has yet to be written

As the first page unfolds and their life inks its path

May it write a true story where forever love lasts

Let their journey be happy till death do they part

Of one thousand chapters may this be the start.


From ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Brontë

‘I have for the first time found what I can truly love - I have found you. You are my sympathy - my better self - my good angel; I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wraps my existence about you - and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.’

From ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ by Louis de Bernières

Love is a temporary madness,

it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.

And when it subsides you have to make a decision.

You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together

that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.

Because this is what love is.

Love is not breathlessness,

it is not excitement,

it is not the promulgation of eternal passion.

That is just being “in love” which any fool can do.

Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away,

and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.

Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground,

and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches,

they find that they are one tree and not two.


‘Us Two’ by A.A. Milne (extract)

Wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,

There’s always Pooh and Me.

Whatever I do, he wants to do,

“Where are you going today?” says Pooh:

“Well, that’s very odd ‘cos I was too.

Let’s go together,” says Pooh, says he.

“Let’s go together,” says Pooh.

… “I wasn’t afraid,” said Pooh, said he,

“I’m never afraid with you.”

So wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,

There’s always Pooh and Me.

“What would I do?” I said to Pooh,

“If it wasn’t for you,” and Pooh said: “True,

It isn’t much fun for One, but Two,

Can stick together, says Pooh, says he. “That’s how it is,” says Pooh


‘A Lovely Love Story’ by Edward Monkton

"The fierce Dinosaur was trapped inside his cage of ice. Although it was cold he was happy in there. It was, after all, his cage. Then along came the Lovely Other Dinosaur. The Lovely Other Dinosaur melted the Dinosaur’s cage with kind words and loving thoughts. “I like this Dinosaur,” thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. “Although he is fierce he is also tender and he is funny. He is also quite clever though I will not tell him this for now.” “I like this Lovely Other Dinosaur,” thought the Dinosaur. “She is beautiful and she is different and she smells so nice. She is also a free spirit which is a quality I much admire in a dinosaur.” “But he can be so distant and so peculiar at times,” thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. “He is also overly fond of things. Are all Dinosaurs so overly fond of things?” “But her mind skips from here to there so quickly,” thought the Dinosaur. “She is also uncommonly keen on shopping. Are all Lovely Other Dinosaurs so uncommonly keen on shopping?” “I will forgive his peculiarity and his concern for things,” thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur, “for they are part of what makes him a richly charactered individual.” “I will forgive her skipping mind and her fondness for shopping,” thought the Dinosaur, “for she fills our life with beautiful thoughts and wonderful surprises. Besides, I am not unkeen on shopping either.” Now the Dinosaur and the Lovely Other Dinosaur are old. Look at them. Together they stand on the hill telling each other stories and feeling the warmth of the sun on their backs. And that, my friends, is how it is with love. Let us all be Dinosaurs and Lovely Other Dinosaurs together. For the sun is warm. And the world is a beautiful place."


‘Oh The Places You’ll Go’ by Dr Seuss

Congratulations!

Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

…Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!

You’ll be seeing great sights!

You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.

Because, sometimes, you won’t.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!

So… be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So… get on your way!


'A Farewell to Arms' by Ernest Hemingway

At night, there was the feeling that we had come home, feeling no longer alone, waking in the night to find the other one there, and not gone away; all other things were unreal. We slept when we were tired and if we woke the other one woke too so one was not alone. Often a man wishes to be alone and a woman wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others. we were never lonely and never afraid when we were together.


'Love me When I'm Old' by Bee Rawlinson

Love me when I’m old and shocking

Peel off my elastic stockings

Swing me from the chandeliers

Let’s be randy bad old dears


Push around my chromed Bath Chair

Let me tease your white chest hair

Scaring children, swapping dentures

Let us have some great adventures


Take me to the Dogs and Bingo

Teach me how to speak the lingo

Bone my eels and bring me tea

Show me how it’s meant to be


Take me to your special places

Watching all the puzzled faces

You in shorts and socks and sandals

Me with warts and huge love-handles


As the need for love enthralls

Wrestle with my damp proof smalls

Make me laugh without constraint

Buy me chocolate body paint


Hold me safe throughout the night

When my hair has turned to white

Believe me when I say it’s true

I’ve waited all my life for you


Cover image by Dumitru Culiuc at www.imagestudio.com

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